Seems one of the best Weekenders passed me by

I was in conversation with my friend Sue Astle when she told me she was off to the MJRoc Warmwell Weekender near Weymouth in Dorset.

It’s one of the best Paul.  I’ve been a regular for years and always book up for the following year as soon as it’s over.  There’s a great line up of DJs – you’d love it.

Sadly it had passed me by, so I quickly did a little research.  I soon learned that Sue was right.  It was indeed one of the premier weekenders in the Modern Jive Calendar and I hurriedly made enquiries about getting tickets.  Sadly I was told it was sold out.

How about doing a Guest Review for the blog again?

I’d previously worked with Sue on a review of the Medfest Dance Holiday in Calpe on the Costa Blanca, which was held during September.  Essentially Sue had a great time dancing, relaxing and chillin’ out with her friends, while I sat at my computer bashing out the review back in Nottingham.  I asked Sue if she’d would like to do the same for Warmwell:

Just give me a few highlights and a little insight in to the event and I’ll do the rest.  I know Colin, who runs the event, will be happy to help too.  Hopefully, between us, we can give any readers of the blog, who may not have heard about Warmwell, like myself, a glimpse of just how wonderful this weekender is.

I quite enjoyed doing the Medfest review, so I’d love to have another go.  Can I just double check that it will work the same as last time?  So I get to enjoy myself for the whole weekend, while you do all the hard work back in Blogland.

Yep, that’s exactly how it will work!  Basically you stay up until silly o’clock and I get an early night so I’m fresh to write in the mornings.

So with the help of Sue and Colin, and contributions from lots of those who attended, here’s the review of Warmwell.  Hopefully it will provide a souvenir record for those who were there, and give anyone considering going to this weekender, an idea of just what they’ll be letting themselves in for.

A weekender held in an award winning holiday park

The weekender is run by Colin Shaul of LeRoc Surrey, Gareth ‘Gazza’ Forge of Gazzabash freestyles in Kent and Nicky Bourgerie.  It’s held in the award winning Parkdean Holiday Park at Warmwell in Dorset.  The park and it’s lodge style accommodation has a beautiful woodland setting, complete with nature trails and lakes.  This official Warmwell video shows you what a wonderful place it is to spend a weekend.’

Weekenders prolong the sense of well being

I’ve always loved freestyles that go on until two in the morning.  I suppose four hours of dancing, from eight until midnight, should be enough but sometimes I’m not ready to go home.  Dancing delivers a wonderful sense of well being and I’m not alone in wanting the experience to go on a little longer.

Weekenders, with their late night finishes, give you the opportunity to prolong the sense of well being for a lot longer.  Warmwell goes on until two in the morning on the Friday and Sunday nights, with a later three o’clock finish on the Saturday.

The real joy of a weekender is that the sense of well being barely disappears from the previous nights dancing, before it gets revitalised again the following night. There are also plenty of opportunities to dance throughout the day.  At Warmwell there are lessons and workshops all day, but there’s also four hours of afternoon freestyles to enjoy too.

Weekenders are more than just Dance-athons

When ever I’ve asked people what they love about Weekenders, the social side gets mentioned almost as much as the dancing.  Weekenders give you an opportunity to really chill-out with your friends, but it also gives you opportunities to meet up with dance friends from other parts of the country.  Of course three days away from home also give you plenty of opportunities to meet new friends too.

Social dancing is a great way to meet people.  The lessons are also great ice-breakers, but you can’t beat doing activities with like minded people as a way of making new friends.  Warmwell has lots of these non-dance activities that make it’s programme quite unique, but more of this later.

Sue settles in with a glass of bubbly

Time to check in with Sue:

Settling in to our lodge.  We’ve got a lovely location in the park.  It sleeps 6 and it’s really cosy.  Just going to unpack, then open a bottle of bubbly

I suspect a lot of bottles of bubbly are consumed over the weekend, and why not.  Dance weekenders are a holiday after all.  Whenever I’ve been on weekenders my Dance Gang friends always count the empty bottles of Prosecco by the door.  The record is twelve!

Warmwell’s Lodges are one of the reasons why this Weekender is a Sell Out

Having watched the video above and read Sue comments about her lodge, I can begin to see why this weekender is sold out every year.  I’m a great fan of the dance weekenders held in Pontin’s Holiday Camps, but it would make a pleasant change to have such refined levels of comfort.

Sue sent me this picture of the interior of her lodge.  On Saturday Sue and her friends held a Christmas dinner.  What a lovely idea and it just shows the potential weekenders like Warmwell have for socialising with friends.  The lodge looks so comfortable and I love the candelabra.

A first look at the programme

Sue sent me a copy of the programme booklet, that everyone receives when they check in.  I took a quick look at the programme for Friday night.  It seems the dancing started at one o’clock for any early birds.  I was really pleased to see a Welcome Party, Icebreaker Lessons and even a chance to meet the teachers.

As I’ve said above, weekenders are a great place to make new friends, and I love the idea of these opportunities to meet up with your fellow dancers before the action really gets started.  The programme also gives details of all the classes, but the opportunity to meet up with the teachers must be a great help in deciding on what classes to do over the weekend.

A great welcome from the whole of the MJRoc Crew

The people at MJRoc know how to make everyone feel welcome and at the same time kick off the fun.  On Friday night a photographer was on hand, along with a lot of silly accessories, to capture the arrivals at the Welcome Party in The Blue Room.  You can view the whole album by following the link at the bottom of the review.

I picked out this picture of four of The MJRoc Crew members.  These guys are such an important part of the weekend proceedings, and it would be a shame not to acknowledge the hard work they do in setting up the venue before anyone arrives.

Let’s get this party started with Sue, Glenn, Tracey and Nicky

A wonderful variety of music

For many of us a dance weekender is a real music fest.  It’s an opportunity to hear so many different styles of dance music.  Colin tells me that there were twelve DJs on duty over the weekend, and I’ve no doubt that each one of them brought some new music along with them.  Looking through the dance programme the following styles of music were all represented:  Modern Jive Contemporary & Classics, R&B, Smooth and Blues and also Tango and West Coast Swing.  Something for everyone then.

Sue is a real dance music enthusiast like myself. and I’d asked her if she would give me some of her music highlights from across the weekend.  Sue was full of enthusiasm for Kane Jenner’s late night set on the opening night:

I loved Kane’s set, and a packed dance floor suggests everybody else did too.  Kane played some classic modern jive floor fillers but what I really liked was some of the contemporary tracks, and I loved that there were a few that were new to me.

I’ve picked out two of my favourites from his set.  I think you’ll enjoy them Paul, they are ‘Save me’ by Listenbee and the Riback Remix of Starlet’s ‘Call on me’.

Loved them both Sue, but I’ll feature the Starlet track as my favourite.  I think I may have danced to this in the past, and I love the way it builds up and the bass kicks in.

Let’s not forget all the fabulous DJs

One of the reasons I started my Modern Jive Blog was to give credit to the DJs who provide the music for us to dance to.  It’s no easy gig being on stage trying to please all of the people all of the time, especially when we all have our own favourites but also tracks we’d rather sit out. It must feel quite lonely up on the stage behind the decks sometimes.

The beauty of a Weekender like Warmwell, is that there are different rooms offering different genres of music across the three days.  Sue’s reports of her dancing sessions were filled with comments about packed dance floors and enthusiastic dancers having a great time.

A great selection of DJs from all parts of the country

Of the twelve DJs (see appendix for full list) sharing the duties behind the decks, I was familiar with just two – Colin Shaul of LeRoc Surrey and Amanda Saunders of Ener Jive in Hampshire.  I’d danced to both of their music at a LeRoc Surrey freestyle at Tylney Hall in Leatherhead.  So good was Colin, Amanda and Cliff’s music that night, that I voted Tylney Hall my best freestyle of 2016 – 17 (see link below).

So what’s it like DJing at Warmwell?

I thought it would be interesting to get in touch with a couple of the DJ’s, and ask them for their perspective on DJing at Warmwell.  As Sue had picked out Kane Jenner’s set, I thought I’d start by getting in touch with him.  Kane very kindly sent me a little back ground.

Kane runs Jive Frenzy which hold Modern Jive classes and freestyles in Bexhill-on-Sea.  Last year Kane started Liquid West Coast Swing offering lessons and freestyles in the Brighton Area, and he will be DJing at the upcoming UK & EU WCS Championships, and Modern Jive World Championships in Blackpool.

I have been DJing at Warmwell from the beginning when Colin, Gazza, Jim and Nicky started it all.  I love this event because we have an amazing turn out of friends who come year in and year out

For me DJing is an awesome passion that I love doing.  I work hard at finding different tracks for people to try out, and seeing their beaming faces on the dance floor is what keeps me going

When I do Weekenders I have to approach it differently to regular freestyles, as I never know who’s going to turn up and what their musical tastes are.  It’s a real challenge, as I have to get a feel of what music they are used to dancing to.  I never have a set playlist but start by chucking out a few tracks to get a feeling of whats going to go down well. It’s a challenge I love and the reward is seeing happy faces out on the dance floor

From Sue’s feedback it seems that Kane got his music mix spot on.  Kane also sent me a list of some of his tracks that went down really well over the weekend.  Some I knew, like Sigala’s full-on Came here for love and Paloma Faith’s wonderful Cry baby, but many were new to me, proving just how hard Kane must work to bring great new music to the dance floor.

My favourite was the Radio Edit of Chase you down by Runaround.  I just loved it’s driving beat, and the way it goes up a notch when the drum and bass kicks in.  I’ll be getting more feedback from another DJ later in the review, but for now here’s my pick of the tracks Kane sent me.

The dancing is just wonderful

Sue, like all of us loves dancing, and that’s what draws her back to Warmwell year after year:

I love dance music, but I love dancing even more.  There are three dance areas at Warmwell, so you get a chance to do different styles of dancing including Blues, West Coast Swing and Tango.  These dance areas at Warmwell all have a lovely feel and every night the DJs created a great atmosphere out on the floor.  The dancing here is just wonderful.

There were also freestyle sessions in the afternoon.  This picture posted on Facebook shows plenty of people enjoying the dancing while it was still light outside.

It seems we all go a bit crazy at weekenders

One of the things I love about my dance lifestyle is that I get to stay up later than my two daughters.  Long gone are the days when they would wake me up at two in to morning from a night club, to tell me the DJ was playing The Hustle by Van McCoy.  Now they are in bed long before their dad on dance nights, and at weekenders I’m tempted to get my own back.  “Sorry to wake you girls, but just to say that the DJ just played my favourite Jess Glynne track, and I had an awesome dance to it.”

That’s the thing about weekenders – its as if we all go a little crazy, and even getting to bed at two in the morning is still too early.  There’s still too much fun to be had.  There’s more chat and laughter to enjoy, and there’s still two bottles of Prosecco to finish off.  After Kane’s set finished Sue went of to the Blues Room to chill out.  Now its not fair to tell you when Sue actually went to bed, but I suspect that she and a few hundred other people failed to get out of bed in time for breakfast.

So how many people can you get in a Warmwell bed?

Remember being young and doing things that you look back on and feel a little embarrassed about.  Well it seems that when you go to a weekender there’s a danger that you may revert back to being the same care free person.  I found this photo, of people trying to break the record for how many people you can get in a Warmwell bed, on The MJRoc Warmwell Facebook Group Page.

This Facebook Page is a great source of feedback and I’ll be using some of the other photos and comments later in the review.  I’ve put a link to the page at the end of the review so you can see all the goings on for yourselves.

Colin tells me that this group did this photo last year.  This year Colin set them a challenge to see if they could beat last years number

The programme for Saturday had everything

Hopefully these people, and many others who’d enjoyed a late night, managed to get out of bed in time for the great programme of lessons on Saturday morning.  It’s worth saying here that, as all regulars weekenders will know,  you do have to pace yourself over the three days, or you can get danced out.

Looking at the programme for Saturday the first Modern Jive class, Creating a Connection, looks really interesting, but at ten o’clock I’d still be in the shower.  Which is a pity really because I’m sure I would have benefited from it.

Perhaps I would have made it for the Beginners West Coast Swing lesson.  I’ve promised myself to have another go at West Coast Swing and this looks like an ideal class to get a taster of this fabulous dance form.

You can even try a Zumba or Pilates class

I was interested to see that as well as Modern Jive and West Coast lessons there were Tango and Salsa lessons all before lunch.  And as a way of offering something different there was also a chance to try Pilates and Zumba.  All those options were down for the morning and when you then look what was on offer in the afternoon, you realise just how comprehensive the lesson programme is at Warmwell.

Take a stroll around the park

It’s worth remembering that one of the appeals of Warmwell is it’s lovely parkland setting.  A walk or bike ride (you can hire bikes on site) around the park is a relaxing alternative to spend the time between the the night time freestyle sessions.  Here’s Sue again:

I’m not one for doing too many lessons.  I did a West Coast Swing one which I really enjoyed, but I tend to just chill out in the lodge or go for a gentle walk around the park.  It’s quite common to see some of the wild deer, and it’s a wonderful place for nature lovers.

On one of Colin’s site visits in the run up to the weekender, he posted some wonderful pictures on his Facebook page of the park itself.  Here’s one that I picked out which shows just how lovely the parkland setting is.

A Warmwell Tradition

Looking at the programme for Saturday I spotted the Quiz.  It seems that this is quite a tradition at Warmwell.  Now I’m not much use at Quizzes, having never seen a full episode of Eastenders or Coronation Street, but if the questions involve The Songs of Smokey Robinson or Disco Dance Hits 1972 to 1975 then I’m your man.  Sue and her friends, it seems, are quite good though.

Myself and my friends got a team together for The Quiz.  It’s run by Gazza and the bar area was packed.  You’d be quite proud of us Paul, as we came fourth.

Well done Sue.  So, were there by any questions on ‘The Songs of Smokey Robinson’?

No Paul, but there were questions about the ‘No 1 Hits of Michael Jackson’, which we did really well on.

Seems Sue’s team didn’t need me, but let me say, I can’t imagine a much better way to have some fun with your friends on a cold late November afternoon.

More great fresh music

What I love about working with Sue is that she is as much a dance music enthusiast as I am.  We knew that with so many DJs playing across weekend Sue would hear some wonderful music, and so it was:

One set I really enjoyed was Billy Cullens on Saturday night.  Billy played lots of the classic tracks we love, but one of my favourites was a track that I’ve never heard before.  It’s in french but that doesn’t matter because its delicious.  It’s ‘Quand T’es Pas La’ by Lydia & Sebastien.

I’ve just listened to this track, and as Sue says, it is delicious.  It’s got a perfect beat for modern jive, and I love it when the drum and bass kicks in.  Another great example of the richness of the music on offer at this weekender.

Billy gives his take on DJing at Warmwell

Because Sue had picked out Billy’s set, I thought I’d get in touch to ask him if he would give us his take on DJing at Warmwell.  Billy was happy to oblige, and it’s great once again to get a perspective from the other side of the decks.

Billy runs LeRoc Scotland and  his association with Modern Jive goes back as far as 1995.  He started out as a Taxi Dancer with Ceroc and went on to fully qualify as a LeRoc teacher in 1997.  LeRoc Scotland runs classes in Glasgow, Kilmarnock and Ayr and party night freestyles in Glasgow.

DJ Billy Cullen tacking a break from DJing in the Main Room

Can I digress a little please?

Before I let Billy give his take on Warmwell can I tell you a little story.  Back in October I published a list of my Top 5 Freestyles on my blog. This is the list that saw LeRoc Surrey’s Tylney Hall Freestyle take the top spot (see link below).  Now all the venues in the list were in England and not surprisingly Jill from Scotland got in touch:

You have obviously not been to Scotland yet Paul.  You have that pleasure to come!

I immediately got in touch with Jill and asked if she could recommend a freestyle for me to visit and review.  It didn’t take long for her to get back in touch:

Paul please come to LeRoc Scotland’s Christmas Party in The Burgh Halls, Pollokshaws in Glasgow.  It’s always a great night and there’s live music from the Deke McGee Band.

So Billy, I’ll see you and Jill and all the LeRoc Scotland faithful on Saturday night, and could I request Quand T’es Pas La please.

Billy has been a part of Warmwell for the past seven years

This Warmwell Weekender was Billy’s seventh.  Here’s his take on what it’s like to DJ in the Main Room.

I love doing this weekender as the Warmwell crowd are always up for a party.  Of course I love DJing back in Glasgow, but Warmwell is definitely the biggest gig of the year.  Though this was my seventh appearance as a DJ, I still had butterflies on the Friday night.  It’s quite a responsibility knowing that you have to keep five hundred plus people happy on the dance floor.

I had three two hour slots this year so that’s six hours of music to find.  I like to think that each night will be different, so I start preparing for Warmwell as soon as The Christmas and New Year Parties are over.  The reward is seeing the great atmosphere out on the floor and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who danced to my tunes.  I hope I’ll get the chance to do it all again next year.

Thanks for giving us that insight Billy and I’ll see you on Saturday in Glasgow.  Sounds like it’s going to be a great night.

Sue picks a West Coast track as her Blues Room Favourite

Sue it seems can do a little West Coast Swing and spent some time enjoying Nick Stephens’ Funky West Coast Freestyles in the Blue Room.

Nick had a session each night in the Blue Room, playing tracks suited to West Coast Swing.  There are a lot of West Coast fans who go to Warmwell, but Nick’s also plays uptempo and Smooth Jive too.  My favourite track was a West Coast one from 2013 ‘Can’t let go’ by Faydee.

For many years I watched enviously as people danced to tracks like this – my Modern Jive moves just didn’t work with them.  I also couldn’t do the dance-in-a-slot thing, which is the reason West Coast Swing looks so fluid.  I know I’m not the only one who wants to be able to dance to tracks like the Faydee one, and my Dance Gang friends in Nottingham are really trying hard to change their style to a more slotted one.

Some of us are planning to come to Warmwell next year, and hopefully we might even get a few West Coast Swing lessons sorted before hand.  In the meantime here’s Sue’s standout West Coast track from Nick’s set.

Warmwell has a special place in DJ Nick’s heart

I was really pleased that DJ Nick Stephens got in touch to give readers some background to his weekend music sets, and I was interested to learn that he has a special link to Warmwell:

Warmwell is a special place for me because I used to go on family holidays to the park when I were growing up.  This was long before it was a dance venue.

Nick shared DJing duties in the Blue Room, and explained that it’s so called because of the blue lighting, and not the style of music.  Nick also explained that its a great place to play music, because the DJ booth is positioned so you are right in the thick of the action.  Here’s Nick’s take on his three nights of DJing.

Although my sets were billed as Funky West Coast Swing, The Blue room is actually a melting pot of different styles, and that is my favourite challenge as a DJ.  I love the thrill of trying to keep everyone in a room happy, when there are all different levels of dancers and so many different genres of dance.

On Friday night I had the last set and so started it with high energy, then winding down to a soft fluffy landing at the end.  I love to mix it up, getting the heart rate up with some funky bass lines, then contrasting that with some slow expressive pieces.

Saturday night I was playing before Amanda’s chilled set, so I made sure that I got into a smooth groove before handing over to her.

Sunday night was my favourite set of the weekend. Everyone is always in a blissed-out state on the last night at weekenders – the DJ included.  We’ve had all weekend to get into the minds of the dancers, and find out what really works.  Everything just flowed on Sunday night. Uplifting poppy grooves were the order of the day, mixed in with some classics and curve balls for good measure.

In the reviews on my blog I’ve made a point of giving credit to the DJs who spend so much time searching out new grooves for us to dance to.  What’s been really nice for me, while writing this review, is that Billy, Kane and Nick gave their time to give a little insight in to their shifts behind the decks.  I found it fascinating and I’m sure the readers will too, so a big thank you to all three of you.

Warmwell is located in a beautiful part of Southern England

Warmwell is in Dorset, which is one of the most beautiful areas of southern England.  The Park is less than four miles from the stunning Jurassic coastline, which includes Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove.  It seems, from pictures posted on Facebook, that many people took a break from the dancing and went and explored the beautiful countryside.  I picked out this picture of four hardy people wrapped up against the cold and enjoying a stroll on one of the many stunning beaches.

Don’t fancy a brisk walk?  There’s always The Lodge Parties

Of course not everyone wants to get wrapped up and burn a few extra calories, especially when there’s wine on offer at the lodge parties.  These parties are a great tradition of all weekenders and there are several variations:

  1. The chat with friends over a bottle of wine variation
  2. The chat with friends over food and a bottle of wine variation
  3. The chat and play silly games, have more fun than you should at your age, and share a bottle of wine or two or three with friends variation.

I found this invitation on Facebook posted by Yvonne, and it made me smile.  I suspect that after a few bottles it made everybody smile, but hey why not.  Dance weekenders are a chance to really wind down.  Hopefully Yvonne and her friends had a walk round the park to get some fresh air before the dancing started again.

Ski Sunday is what makes Warmwell so unique

I mentioned above that Warmwell’s non dance programme is quite unique amongst dance weekenders.  One of Warmwell’s well loved traditions is Ski Sunday, when the park’s dry ski slope is booked for the exclusive use of those attending the dance weekender.  For two hours on Sunday you can hire skis and show off your piste skills.  There is even a beginner’s lesson.

I’d probably give the ski lesson a miss – I’d be the one to end up on their bum – but the ringos sound like great fun.  Here’s a chance to slide down the slope in a rubber ring along with your friends.  This picture, that I’ve selected from the photo album (see link below for all the photos), tells its own story of great fun and laughter.

Don’t forget there was also a whole programme of dance lessons

So if you did get out of bed at a reasonable time, there was a full programme of dance lessons to squeeze in between the Lodge Parties and fun on the ski slopes.  I asked Sue how many lessons she did over the weekend.

I’m not really one to do lessons Paul.  I’m one of those who stays out dancing as late as possible, and I love chillin’ out after the dancing finishes with my friends.  We don’t usually surface until the early afternoon.  However I understand that all the lessons were well attended and some were really packed.

I did do one of Richard James’ intermediate level West Coast Swing lessons.  Fortunately it had an afternoon start, which meant I could do it justice.  I have to say I really enjoyed it, and it should help me make a little more progress with my West Coast technique.

I’m a bit like Sue, and do very few lessons at weekenders.  Over the last couple of years I’ve been going to The Southport Weekender with my Dance Gang friends.  Like Sue, and her friends, we love having an after-party each night to talk over our time on the dance floor.  When we do stagger out of bed, we slowly wake up with a breakfast get-together to plan the day ahead, and perhaps do a couple of afternoon classes.

I’ve had a look through the photographs of the lessons and, as Sue says, many of them were packed.  This one certainly was!

An opportunity to improve your dancing and try something new

I know that many people try to do as many lessons as possible – they see weekenders as a way of improving their dancing, and for many it’s also an opportunity to try new things.  The programme certainly had something for everyone.  (I’ve provided a full list of the teachers and dance styles on offer in Appendix 2 below).

I’ve picked out a couple that looked really interesting.  On Saturday Nigel and Nina did a lesson on how some Lindy Hop patterns could be incorporated in to your Modern Jive, to help out when dancing to Swing Music.  The second is an opportunity to try some Double Trouble with Lee, Dawn and Mel.

The lessons that would have really appealed to me, would be the Smooth Jive classes run by Cliff and Amanda.  If any one reads my freestyle reviews they’ll know that I love dancing to full-on hi-energy tracks, but I look on enviously sometimes as people dance a more relaxed and smoother form of Modern Jive to slower paced tracks.  I am trying to adapt my moves so I can enjoy dancing to slower music, and I’m sure that Cliff and Amanda’s classes would have been a great help.

Nearly forgot to mention Blues Dancing

All this talk of myself trying to learn slower forms of dancing, made me realise I’d not mentioned any Blues dancing or even Blues music.  I quickly went back through the notes Sue had sent me, and realised that she didn’t appear to have spent any time in Busters where there were Blues sessions last thing on both Friday and Saturday night.  Realising that this was a bit of an omission I made contact with DJ John Dunlop who spun the blues grooves during those shifts.

Blues dancing establishes itself as a firm Warmwell favourite

DJ John tells me that he’s been pushing for more Blues at Warmwell for some time, and it seems that it’s now established itself as a regular feature of the dance programme.  Here’s John’s view from his side of the decks.

This weekender had the best turnout of any year for Modern Blues, and I had to extend the Friday and Saturday night sessions by half-an hour each, because there were so many dancers still on the dance floor when it came time to finish.  There were still 40 people dancing at 2:30 on Sunday morning!

While I mainly play tracks that people can dance Modern Blues to, the music also attracts people who do West Coast Swing.  There were even people Tangoing to my choice of tracks.  Because of the numbers of people in the late night sessions in the Busters room there was a wonderful atmosphere on the dance floor, and I’m pleased to report that Colin and Gazza have asked me to DJ some Blues spots again next year.

John provides a Sunday afternoon Blues fix

Because the dance programme on the last night builds to a party atmosphere in both the Main Hall and The Blue Room, John provided a Blues fix on Sunday afternoon in The Blue Room instead.

While I am not a fan of close hold blues dancing I love the music, and I was pleased that John sent me a few tracks from his set to listen to.  I loved all of them, but I’ve picked one out which I hope gives a flavour of John’s wonderful music sets.  Here’s the soulful voice of Beth Hart accompanied by Joe Bonamassa’s wonderful blues guitar playing.

Sunday night is Fancy Dress night

At many Weekenders the last night is often time for fancy dress, but it seems at Warmwell people really go to town.  Colin very proudly told me that about eighty-five percent of the people get in to fancy dress.  What was pretty obvious, looking through the photos, was that many people really went to town with their outfits.

It seems that when it comes to fancy dress people really use their imagination.  In amongst the sexy nurses, nuns, super heros, GIs, Bunny Girls and Marilyn Monroe there was even a man dressed as a bed!  Not sure how you dance when you’re dressed as a bed – I hope he won a prize!  Here’s one of the many photos of Sunday night’s Fancy Dress Finale posted on the Warmwell Facebook Page (see link below).

DJ Colin rocks the dance floor on Sunday

I’m a great fan of Colin Shaul, having danced to his music many times at Tylney Hall in Leatherhead.  It seems that Sue, and her friend Linda are fans too:

We love Colin’s music, and we would have to say he was our favourite.  On Sunday night Colin really had the Main Room floor rockin’.  Billy Cullen had done a great job by getting the crowd in to party mode after the Fancy Dress Competition, and set it up nicely for Colin to keep the party atmosphere going right up to the one thirty finish.

Colin really mixes his music up.  He played some wonderful rockin’ tracks that you’d really love Paul, and he kept the tempo going right up until he played his party set.

When there’s another DJ in a second room playing more relaxed music (remember Gazza was in The Blue Room at the same time with his West Coast Swing Party) it’s acceptable for the Main Room DJ to keep the energy levels up – something Colin would have no problem doing.  I asked Sue to give me the name of one of his rockin’ tracks.

It’s difficult to pick one Paul, as there were so many, but how about ‘Kansas City’ by Johnny Johnson.

Nice one Sue.  I first heard this track at Leatherhead and remember lovin’ it.  The last time I was there I recognised the intro and immediately looked around for a partner to do it justice.  I got lucky, as my dance partner also connected with it’s rockin’ bluesy rhythm.  Best dance of the night if I remember.

OK everyone, lets jump around

For the last hour DJs Colin Shaul in the Main Room, and Gazza in The Blue Room, created a real party atmosphere.  It was now time to swing a leg to New York, New York, and sing along to Always look on the bright side of life with Colin in the Main Room.  From the photos it seems like anything goes!

In The Blue Room Gazza finished off as he always does with Eminem’s Shake that, then followed it with another party anthem.  Forget your West Coast Swing and all those Smooth moves you learnt in the classes, because it time for a bit of Pogo dancing  to House of Pain’s Jump around – so wish I was there.

Here’s a video of the last crazy minutes. It starts with a view of Colin in the Main Room, and you’ll get a glimpse of Gazza on the decks in The Blue Room.

That’s all folks – see you next year

Good things sadly can’t go on for ever, and the weekender finally came to an end in The Blue Room at two in the morning.  One of the great Warmwell traditions is to take one last photo of as many of the dancers and crew as will fit into a wide angled lens.  Many of the people were still in fancy dress and I suspect that the party atmosphere didn’t die down until long after this photo was taken.

Great to see the crew (mainly in blue MJRoc shirts) take centre stage on this last photo. They are: Front Row L – R  Amanda, Tracey, Kevin & Sue  Second Row L – R Christine, Steve J, Terry & Stevie.  Between the rows Nicky.

The feedback for the crew is quite overwhelming

From reading Sue’s notes and looking at all the photos on Facebook, it’s obvious that Warmwell lived up to its fabulous reputation.  I don’t doubt for one minute that everyone had a great time.

It’s worth remembering that weekenders like Warmwell rely on a Herculean effort from a large team of people.  Month’s of planning had gone in to this event and the crew were on hand, all over the weekend, to ensure that everything ran smoothly.  So it was nice to see that the hard work and dedication of  Colin, Gazza, and all the crew, deservedly received a flood of warm and positive feedback on Facebook.

I was pleased to see recognition for the DJs and the teachers in these comments too, but this comment on Facebook from Gazza was one that I was really pleased to see.

I would like to thank Ev who is never mentioned and one we can’t do without

I understand that Ev is responsible for Customer Services, and I suspect she had little rest over the weekend.  It’s often the people who work behind the scenes that make these weekenders the great experiences they are.

Colin tells me he only got about two hours sleep a night, and I suspect some of the other crew members had equal bouts of sleep deprivation.  So it was great to think that so many people took the time to post favourable comments.  Colin has collated all the feedback and posted it on  The MJRoc Website (see link below).

Thanks to the people who gave Sue their feedback

Sue spent a lot of time chatting with her fellow dancers. and I’d like to extend my thanks to the people who were happy to have their verdict on the weekend featured in this review.  Firstly here’s Colin from Brighton:

I love the music here, the setting and the accommodation are really good. I have been here three times now. This weekend I have done two lessons which I don’t normally do. I found them very well constructed and a great help to me. It’s been a very enjoyable weekend mixing with very friendly people and great dancers.

Colin’s comment about the friendliness of the people is a common thought about all weekenders.  It’s a reason why first timers enjoy them so much, and so it was at Warmwell.  Here’s Dave and Ann from St Ives.

We have been dancing for four years locally to St Ives, but this was our first visit to Warmwell.  We were recommended by friends, and we are so pleased that we came.  The Dancers are very friendly and we love the music. We will come again next year and recommend it to our other friends.

Warmwell’s enviable reputation has been built on these word of mouth recommendations.  No wonder then that it’s a sell out every year.

Let’s raise a glass to this wonderful weekender

I know lots of people, including Sue have already booked up for next year.  I’m hoping to book a couple of lodges for my Dance Gang friends from Nottingham when general booking opens in a few days time.

I want to finish this review with one last picture, which I think sums up the spirit of Warmwell.  There is no doubt that one of the things that makes Warmwell one of the premier weekenders, in the Modern Jive Weekender Calendar, is the beautifully appointed lodges.  Warmwell is also about sharing the joy of it all with your friends.

At the beginning of this review I showed a picture, that Sue had sent me of her lodge, with the table set for a Christmas dinner.  Here she is with her friends making a toast.  I’d like to think that they were toasting this wonderful dance weekender.  Merry Christmas everybody and here’s to some great dancing over the festive season.

Cheers everybody and let’s do it again next year

Acknowledgements

This review would never have happened if my friend Sue Astle hadn’t mentioned that she was off to Warmwell in November.  My many thanks to Sue for guiding me through the event with the notes she made for me, and for answering all my follow up questions.

Colin Shaul has also provided me with a mine of information, and kindly gave me permission to use the photos posted on the Warmwell Group Facebook Page.  Over the last week and a half I’ve been constantly asking Colin for his help.  I suspect he would have rather been catching up with his sleep, so a big thanks for your input Colin.

A big thanks to DJs Billy Cullen, Nick Stephens and Kane Jenner  for giving me a little perspective on what it’s like DJing at Warmwell

Also a thanks to all the people who posted photos and comments on the Warmwell Facebook Page, including Yvonne who gave permission to use her hilarious Lodge Party invite.  They give the review a real authenticity.

Appendix 1:  The DJ line up

Main Room: Music Style – Modern Jive: DJs Billy CullenKane Jenner, Kelly Donoghue & Colin Shaul

Busters: Music Style – Blues and Swing/R&R: Ray StylesGazzaJohn Dunlop & Peter Philips

The Blue Room: Music Style – West Coast Swing and Smooth: Richard James,  Amanda SaundersNick StephensGazzaKelly Donoghue & Cliff Dean

Appendix 2:  The Teacher line up

Modern Jive: Matt K & SarahMatt E & Fran, Mel & Dawn

West Coast Swing: Richard James

Double Trouble:  Lee, Dawn & Mel

Tango: Rene

Smooth Jive: Cliff & Amanda

Cha Cha Cha: Lee & Dawn

Something Different: Nigel & Nina  (Lindy Hop in to Modern Jive, Partner Charleston and Juke Joint Blues)

Follow the links for related articles and photo albums

Warmwell Weekender Facebook Page: You’ll find lots of photos and comments here, and news about the 2018 Weekender

Welcome Party Photo Album: The fun starts with silly accessories

Ski Sunday Photo Album: Fun on the dry ski slope

Fancy Dress Photo Album: The climax to the weekend – Sunday night’s Fancy Dress Paty

Wonderful feedback: A collection of wonderful comments found on Facebook

My Top 5 Freestyles: I vote LeRoc Surrey Tylney Hall Freestyle my No 1 for 2016 – 17